To be honest, some of us thought that the only hardware stores in town were Home Depot and Lowes, maybe a True Value here and there. As it turns out, when you get to Suffolk County on Long Island, Brinkmann's Hardware, which has locations in Sayville, Blue Point, Holbrook and Miller Place, as well as a paint store in Jamesport is seeking to open another location 12500 Main Road in Mattituck, New York.
Here lies the New York eminent domain story for our weekly blog post.
The parcel of land where Brinkmann's Hardware, Mattituck location is set to be has the community divided and the possibility of Southold Town seizing the land through eminent domain. The Brickman family wants their hardware store built, while some community members and town officials would like to use the land for a public park.
Supreme Court Justice Hon. William Ford ruled in favor of the Brinkmann family when he denied Southold Town's request for dismissal of the Brinkmann’s lawsuit. The family claims that they have seen their efforts thwarted by a moratorium imposed by Southold Town. The Town recently noticed a hearing for the extension of the moratorium for a third time.
Litigation was started by Brinkmann Hardware Corp., which filed an Article 78 against Southold Town over a moratorium enacted in February of 2019. The suit maintains that while the town said the moratorium was enacted to temporarily put a halt on the issuance of approvals and permits on Main Rd. in Mattituck (while an expanded corridor study, weighing traffic impacts and other concerns, was underway). The Brinkmanns allege that the true purpose of the moratorium was to prevent them from building another hardware store. The suit asked the court to declare the moratorium, a local law, "unconstitutional, null and void."
Members of the Brinkmann family accused Supervisor Russell of blocking the project due to personal reasons. They say that if the true motive was a public park, the town would buy the parcel directly adjacent to the property in question, which is currently for sale. In addition, they are also claiming that defending the moratorium would cost taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars. A new suit to fight eminent domain proceedings would be even more expensive.
As part of the new store’s development, the Brinkmann family said that they hired a local architect and reached out to the community to work together and be open about plans. The family has said publicly that they believe that Russell has personal reasons for stopping the project. Russell has claimed that he does not know the Brinkmanns, and that he had never heard of them or their hardware store.
Assistant Town Planning Director Mark Terry gave a timeline and said hamlet studies and the town's comprehensive plan urge that the property be used as a green space. Dr. Anne Smith, current president of the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association, said the group supported the idea of keeping the parcel, "the last green corner," as parkland for the benefit of the community and visitors, while not supporting the seizure of the land by eminent domain.
The location seems to be an interesting spot for a public space. Mark Haubner, vice president of the North Fork Environmental Council said a traffic study in the town's newly completed comprehensive plan, listed the intersection of New Suffolk Avenue and Main Road as one of the "top 5 most dangerous intersections" in town.
In a public meeting, it was explained that the hamlet business zoned parcel, 1.775 acres, would feature two buildings that total 20,000 square feet, 80 parking spots, meet green space and Suffolk County Health Department requirements, and is sited to maximize solar gain. The building is being planned as a 12,000 square foot hardware store, with the 8,000 square foot building on the right including 3,000 square feet in the front for paint and 5,000 square feet in the rear for storage. There was an uproar from the community when a traffic light was discussed. The new store would add 25 local jobs.
Of course, we will keep you posted on the developments of this eminent domain case. Never a dull moment!